Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Rainbow Salad

It looks pretty, doesn't it?

Last week I was with the group I volunteer with, Kids in the Kitchen, and we were talking to a group of adorable little girls about healthy eating choices.  We went over where food comes from, what foods to eat, and why you choose those certain foods.  We taught them that when they are choosing which foods to eat, try to eat the rainbow.  Little girls love rainbows, so this concept went over fairly well :)  For their activity and snack, we helped them make rainbow skewers.  Such a cute idea, and the kids really got into it.

image via pinterest
So the other day when I was trying to decide what to make for lunch, I was inspired by the rainbow skewers and created my version of them via a salad.  In this anti-oxidant rich salad, citrus oranges are complimented by sweet strawberries and slightly tart blackberries.  I added a little bit of walnuts to give the salad an extra crunch.  Delicious, simple and so good for you.  As we taught the group of kids, try to "eat the rainbow" next time you are making a salad!!

serves 2

1 naval orange, peeled and pulled apart
1/2 cup blackberries
1/2 cup sliced strawberries
1/4 cup of walnuts
2 cups of baby spinach


Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss with your favorite light dressing!  Enjoy!

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Chickpea Salad with Cilantro and Spinach

Chickpeas?  Spinach?  What?  Okay, this recipe is über healthy.  If you're thinking enough with the health stuff, why don't you check out this, my bacon cornbread recipe? :)  For those of you still reading, this recipe may not look like much, but it is packed with lots of flavor, protein and nutrients!

I would have to say this is my new favorite thing to eat for lunch.  Chickpeas are tossed with chopped onions, garlic, cilantro and spinach.  Two full cups of spinach are incorporated into the recipe.  The best part is you don't even notice them!  Amazing.  Cumin, one of my favorite seasonings, compliments the protein rich chickpeas.  Altogether though, cilantro shines as the star of this meal.  

It is easy to prepare, and you can make a big batch in advance.  Nothing is simpler than just reaching into the fridge for a fully prepared, don't have to do anything for, lunch! 

recipe adapted from Oh She Glows

1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 cups baby spinach
1/4 cup yellow onion, chopped finely
1 tbsp lime juice
3/4 cup fresh Cilantro
1/2 tsp sugar (or to taste)
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt (more to taste, I ended up salting it each time I had some)
freshly ground pepper


In a food processor, add the spinach and pulse a few times until chopped very small. Add the processed spinach, drained chickpeas, and chopped onion into a large bowl.

In the food processor (no need to rinse the bowl), add the lime juice, onions, cilantro, sugar, garlic, cumin and oil. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Pour the dressing on top of the spinach chickpea mixture and stir well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let stand for about 10 minutes to let the flavors develop.  Serve cold alone or over a whole grain such as brown rice.  Enjoy!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Butternut Squash 'Mac-n-Cheese'

It's January.  It's cold.  If you are craving comfort food, or are trying to be good this winter, this recipe is for you!  Actually, it's for Stacey, one of my readers and good friends :)  Stacey asked me last month to post a recipe for mac and cheese that is super healthy.  I was kind of stumped, because I wasn't sure if you can really "healthify" mac and cheese, and I wasn't sure if I wanted to.

But then I went to Christmas party and a friend, who is a RD and knows a ton about healthy eating, brought this dish.  I was impressed.  This healthy mac and cheese sauce was delicious and is actually vegan. I don't think I could ever stick to a vegan diet (the whole cheese thing obviously is a problem) but I am always willing to give something new a try.  The sauce is made by combining cashews with nutritional yeast, herbs, spices, and almond milk.  This results in a thick and creamy vegan cheeze sauce that extremely good.    Don't be scared of the nutritional yeast - it's a vegetarian protein source that is often used as a Parmesan cheese substitute.  For a similar outcome you could use Parmesan instead, it just wouldn't be dairy free.  I found nutritional yeast in the bulk food section at our local health food store.  It kind of looks like cornmeal and is full of B vitamins, mineral, protein and is naturally low in fat.

Nutritional Yeast
The butternut squash is roasted and processed in a food processer.  It's a another sneaky way to add more veggies.  Tumeric is also added to give the sauce a beautiful orange color.  Just like the boxed mac and cheese stuff!  But healthier.  For the pasta, I used a brown rice based pasta, but you could also use a quinoa based pasta or just regular whole wheat pasta.  This meal is everything my friend Stacey asked for - comforting, nutritious, and tastes good!

recipe adapted from Oh She Glows

1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped (yields: 3.5 cups raw)
1/2 cup raw cashews
1 cup non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened + unflavored soy milk), or more to thin out
3 garlic cloves
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
6-7 tbsp nutritional yeast (provides the cheesy consistency)
1/2 tsp dried Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 tsp Paprika
1 box brown rice pasta


Preheat oven to 375F.  In a bowl, season chopped squash with some extra virgin olive oil and sea salt and stir. Add to a baking sheet and roast in oven for 40 minutes, flipping once half way through baking.

Assemble your cheeze sauce ingredients (cashews, non-dairy milk, garlic, lemon, salt, nutritional yeast, pepper, seasonings) and add just the cashews to food processor. Process until a fine crumb forms similar to corn meal. Add in the rest of the cheese sauce ingredients and process until smooth. Leave the sauce in the processor as you will be adding the squash.

Cook your pasta according to package directions. When squash is finished roasting, add it to the food processor and blend it with the cheese sauce until smooth. Adjust to taste. The sauce will thicken up with time. If at any point the sauce becomes too thick, you can add a bit of milk to thin it out.

Drain and rinse pasta with cold water. Now add the pasta back into the same pot and add your desired amount of cheeze sauce on top. Stir well.  Serve warm and enjoy!

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Grapefruit Brûlée

I was in the mood for something healthy but since it was Sunday, something a little bit decadent.  When I saw this recipe featured on Bon Appétit's website I couldn't stop thinking about it.  I enjoy eating grapefruit as a mid-morning snack, even more so since I recently bought myself a grapefruit spoon.  Grapefruit is also a super food, and this month we're all about the super foods!!

This old-school breakfast treat is delicious and smells heavenly.  I tried this first using splenda's brown sugar, but I think that regular sugar is worth the splurge!  IF I had a culinary kitchen torch, I would use that.  But who really has one of those?  Broiling worked great.  It doesn't though give that dark crystallized layer as in other brûlée type of things.  But overall I still think this would be an excellent yet surprising breakfast item to serve overnight guests.  I would serve this as the perfect dessert to a farm fresh egg white omelet!

serves 2

1 grapefruit, halved crosswise  
2 tbsp sugar (use raw sugar is you have it)


Preheat broiler. Place grapefruit, cut side down, on paper towels to dry for 5 minutes. Invert grapefruit and sprinkle 1 Tbsp. sugar evenly over exposed flesh of each grapefruit half.

Transfer grapefruit, cut side up, to a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. Broil grapefruit, but watch it closely so it doesn't burn.  Broil until the sugar is melted, about 8 minutes. Let grapefruit cool before serving.  Bon Appétit!

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Lean Green Smoothie

I've been sick all week, I've had a nasty cold.  Thankfully I started feeling better today. In the past 48 hours I've only worn pajamas, been in bed, slept for almost 40 of those hours and watched 3 pretty terrible chick flicks.  The only saving grace was Chris bringing a endless supply of soup, DayQuil and Nyquil.  Oh, and snuggling with my puppy, he never left my side.  That was a bonus :)

I knew I was feeling better when only 8 hours of sleep was sufficient and I was motivated to shower and put on some yoga pants to run a few errands.  This included a stop at the farmers market to load up on fruit and veggies because I had a recipe in mind I really wanted to try. While I was sick in bed, I caught up on reading some of my favorite blogs. Camille Styles is a fashion, food, entertaining, overall chic blog that is always inspiring.  I highly recommended you check out what Camille and her team come up with.   She recently posted a recipe for a smoothie that sounded fresh, healthy and full of vitamins.  After a weekend of bacon cornbread, it was exactly everything I needed! 

True to it's green name, this smoothie is nutrient packed and delicious.  It is loaded with a fresh spinach, which I have never included in my smoothies before. (I don't know why, but I think I always will now).  The highlight of the smoothie is the fresh pineapple which is complemented by ripe pear, fresh cucumber and mint.  A little bit of agave nectar adds a touch of sweetness.  Make this!!


1/2 of a pineapple, peeled, cored and chopped
1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 ripe pear, peeled, cored and chopped
juice from 1 lime
1 cup baby spinach leaves
10 mint leaves, chopped
1 tsp agave nectar
1 tsp of chia seeds 
crushed ice

Update!! I recently made this smoothie with a peach (peeled) instead of a pear and it was excellent!!!  (And I omitted the line and mint... still tasted great!)


Purée ingredients in a blender until smooth.  Pour into 2 glasses, garnish with a cucumber spear and serve.



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Monday, January 9, 2012

Bacon Cornbread

Disclaimer:  This post is not for anyone sticking to their New Year's diet

It's funny, there are certain dishes that only I make, and certain dishes only my husband makes.  It's like we have an established unspoken rule.  For instance, I don't touch a steak, and he doesn't go near salmon.  One of Chris' specialties is his chilli.  It is soooooo good, he doesn't stick to a recipe each time, it's more about what we have on hand.  On Sunday, we woke up took the puppy for a long walk, and then Chris started prepping lots of ingredients and got a pot of chilli on the stove.  This time he used a little bit of leftover coffee and also added some Abita Turbo Dog (a dark brown ale), two surprisingly excellent flavors that might of made this chili his best batch yet.

As he was busy tending to the chili while watching some football, I got the urge to add my own touch to our Sunday dinner.  Other than topping your chilli with lots (and lots) of cheddar cheese, what else goes best with it?  Cornbread!  Then, I thought what makes ordinary cornbread amazing cornbread... bacon.  Yummmmmmm.  I was also inspired to make this after having some amazing bacon skillet cornbread in Charleston's Husk Restaurant.  Husk was voted Bon Appetit's number one new restaurant in 2011, and it was simply one of the most amazing meals ever.  This is my version of their to-die-for bacon cornbread (pictured below in Charleston, SC).  

My cornbread is moist and fluffy, yet still holds together after you cut into it.  I added a little bit of honey into the batter for a touch of sweetness. The secret to this cornbread is to whisk the bacon drippings into your wet ingredients.  It makes a huge difference and you'll start to ponder what else you can whisk bacon drippings into....


1/2 lb bacon
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup corn meal
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup milk (I used non-fat b/c that's what we had on hand)
1/3 cup honey
1 egg
1/2 cup frozen yellow corn
5 tbsp bacon drippings


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a cast iron skillet, cook bacon and crumble into small pieces.  Set aside.  Pour most of the bacon drippings into a separate bowl leaving enough fat so it still coats the pan. 

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt and frozen corn.  In another mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, honey and egg.  Add 5 tablespoons of the bacon drippings, whisk together.  Combine the wet and dry ingredients into one bowel.  Pour into the skillet and top with cooked bacon pieces.  Bake for 30 minutes until you can cleanly stick with a toothpick.  Enjoy with a bowl of chili for dinner or on its own with some honey butter for breakfast!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Grilled Salmon with Hazelnut Butter

Does this flavor combination surprise you?  I was skeptical that hazelnuts and salmon would actually pair well, but I was intrigued to give it a try.  I try to make salmon twice a week because it is so good for you, but I grow tired of the 3 ways we usually make it.  I found this recipe in Betty Crocker's Quick and Easy Cookbook which we received as wedding gift.  I don't know why I don't cook from it more often, all the recipes look good.  In my opinion, Betty Crocker puts Martha Stewart to shame!  Martha's recipe tend to be over complicated and a tad bit long.  But my girl Betty didn't disappoint with this simple and easy recipe.  I loved this meal.

The hazelnut butter is really a rich and flavorful way to finish grilled salmon.  Roasting the hazelnuts complements the salmon in an intense fabulous way.  I didn't have any parsley on hand, but I would definitely add it next time.  Serve with a simple green salad or mixed grilled veggies. 

Adapted from Betty Crocker
serves 4

1 lb wild caught sockeye salmon
1/2 cup hazelnuts
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
sea salt
freshly ground pepper 


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place hazelnuts on a baking sheet and bake for 9-10 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Add the roasted hazelnuts to a food processor and process until almost finely grounded.  Combine the hazelnuts, butter, parsley and lemon juice.  Set aside.

Generously season each salmon filet with salt and pepper.  Place flesh side down on the grill and grill for about 10 minutes.  Flip the salmon and top with the hazelnut butter.  Grill for another 5-10 minutes depending on the thickness of your fish.  Enjoy!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Spicy Navy Bean and Kale Soup with Turkey Sausage

Ahhhh, Happy New Years!  Chris and I just got back from a Caribbean cruise with his family over Christmas break.  That means after a holiday weekend full of rich dinners and sweat treats, we boarded a fancy boat known for endless around the clock multi-course meals, and unlimited frosty cocktails.  Amazing time, but I don't think my pants fit anymore.

So it's definitely that time of the year where we resolve to eat healthy and exercise every day.  Riiiiiight.  But we do have the best intentions, I know we all do.  With that in mind I made this simple yet extremely healthy soup.  Both ingredients are really good for you.  Navy beans lower your cholesterol and area  good source of protein, folate and other vitamins.  Kale is known to be a big player in the body's detoxification process and is full of antioxidants.  A pinch of cayenne pepper and spicy turkey sausage adds a nice little bit of heat.  Grate some fresh parmesan into the soup and you're ready to kick off all those New Year resolutions ;)

serves 4

1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped white onions
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 cup shredded carrots
2 1/2 cups chicken stock (I used 99% fat free)
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 cups chopped kale
2 turkey sausage patties, diced
1 cup white navy beans
1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper
parmesan rind (optional but I think it really adds to the soup)
salt and pepper to taste


In a heavy bottomed soup pan, saute the garlic, onions and carrots in EVOO until tender.  Add the chicken stock and water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat.  Add the mushrooms, navy beans, turkey sausage, parmesan rind, cayenne pepper and kaleLet simmer for 20-30 minutes over medium low heat.  Enjoy!

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